From photography and music to transforming banking, Jonathan Holman likes to push the digital boundaries. As Head of Digital Transformation for Corporate & Commercial Banking at Santander UK, he’s helping to make life easier for thousands of businesses across the UK. We talked to Jonathan about how digitalisation can enrich the banking experience.
We started by focusing on digitalising the different building blocks that cut across all our products and services, for example, onboarding customers, assessing credit risk, and tackling financial crime. The goal was to enable our teams to execute faster by removing duplication and increasing automation. We’ve almost completed this phase and are now looking at how we can leverage data and digital technologies to better anticipate customer needs. This will enable us to recommend the right product at the right time - potentially even before the customer knows they need it!
We’ve completely transformed the onboarding process for new corporate and commercial banking customers, which represents a big chunk of our business. We offer financial services products to businesses from startup to £500 million turnover, and have a 4.5% market share of SME banking. It used to take an average of 12 days to open a new corporate banking account - now it’s just two days. The process is 100% digital; we’ve gone from using 39 different documents to just one dynamic online form.
As soon as the customer submits the online application form, it triggers a series of tasks needed to approve and open a new account. This all happens in the background while the customer sources the signatures to control the new account(s). The digital workflow is underpinned by an ecosystem of configurable SaaS solutions, including Salesforce, Duedil, DocuSign and nCino. This ecosystem will be critical to delivering the next stages in our digital roadmap - it’s also helped us streamline and scale up our corporate and commercial lending processes. By taking an ecosystem-based approach, you can drive richer integrations and greater data continuity. The Salesforce AppExchange has been a big win for us.
Because your business will fail without it. Digitalisation enables organisations to better understand their customers, products, and services so they can deliver superior business outcomes. This is happening all around us every day. For example, YouTube uses machine learning to anticipate what you might want to watch next - and the algorithms are astonishingly accurate. I’ve been amazed at some of the leftfield video recommendations that really fit with my interests.
We’ve got lots of short-term and long-term plans. I am really excited about reaching our next phase, which will involve combining operational elegance with customer intelligence to completely transform the financial services model. We’ve already seen subscription and intelligence disrupt other sectors, so why not banking? Instead of signing up to individual products, corporate and commercial customers could utilise a subscription to meet their changing needs. We’re just experimenting with this idea. I feel really fortunate to have the chance to exploit different digital innovations - both in my personal and professional life. For example, I’m a big music fan and don’t want to stop listening to a track just because I switch to a different location or device. I’ve used various digital technologies to ensure music can follow me around, although I have to make sure it’s suitable for every location I find myself!
Go back to square one and question existing assumptions. Do they really reflect the current situation? Make sure you understand your customers’ needs not just the business requirements and then start exploring how technology can you meet your goals. For inspiration, look beyond your own industry to market leaders in other sectors - it will give you an idea of what’s possible. Be open to utilising new technologies, such as cloud resources, SaaS platforms, and APIs, and make sure you maintain data continuity between any platforms that you deploy.
By putting digitalisation in the fast lane, Santander will not only be able to optimise its processes but also help its customers prosper. Find out more about the bank’s digital strategy and successes here.